Ladies of Summerhill, #1Book Cover and Synopsis:
Newport, Rhode Island, 1899, is a place of shimmering waves, sleek yachts, and ladies of leisure. Of opulent mansions that serve as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Home of railroad magnates and banking tycoons--dashing young men and the women who aspire to marry them.
But it's not the place for lady novelists. Especially not those who pen disreputable dime novels. This poses a problem for Lilly Westbrook, because that's exactly what she does.
No one in Lilly's social set knows she pens fiction under the "nom de plume "Fannie Cole. Not her family or the wealthy young man about to propose to her. And especially not Jackson Grail, the long-lost beau who just bought her publishing company...and who stirs her heart more than she cares to admit.
But Lilly must put aside her feelings and follow the path that will maintain her family's social stature and provide the financial security that everyone is depending on.
Now Lilly faces a double dilemma. Can she continue to protect her secret identity? And will she have the courage to choose the man who will risk it all just to win her heart?
My source for book: Local LibraryMy Thoughts:
I don't often contemplate not finishing a book, but I have to admit that several times I considered giving up on this one. The story simply failed to engage me, and the characters didn't pull me in either. The descriptions and dialogue often struck me as feeling somewhat stiff and matter of fact, which admittedly could partially be due to the time period that it's set in...however, I don't normally have this issue with other books in the genre.
Though I really like the premise of being a closet dime-novelist, this alone wasn't enough to endear Lilly to me. Her longtime blindness in the romance department irked me quite a bit; it was hard to believe she couldn't see just how wrong a certain someone was for her. Additionally, through-out most of the story there is an impending blackmail threat, and Lilly is so stubborn, and also naive, that she absolutely refuses to ask for help, instead floundering around on her own and waiting until the last possible minute to finally seek assistance. Jackson was in a perfect position to help her, which he offered to do multiple times, and I so wanted Lilly to trust him and take him up on his offer. Things would have been much easier if she had.
Despite my qualms with the overall story, I must admit that the church service towards the end really spoke to me. The few short verses that made up the sermon were well chosen, being relevant not only to the story, but also in my own life, coming at exactly the time I needed. It's so awesome when God is able to speak through fictional stories like that. And that moment alone--no matter what else I have to say about the story--made reading the whole book worth it.
Overall, as far as the actual story goes, I really struggled to get through it.... so unfortunately I don't think I'll be reading the rest of the series. I think part of what didn't mesh with my tastes was the Newport setting, and all the uppity society rules and games that go along with it. Still, I won't tell anyone to stay away from the book, because of the blessing I received through the church service in the story. Personal tastes aside, you know an author is doing something right when God is able to speak through their book in such a way!
My Rating: 3 stars